meeting reports

 

MEETING REPORTS

 

John Harries: Reflections on Sri Lanka 17 April 2018

Past- President John Harries was the speaker at this week’s meeting. His illustrated talk was ‘ Reflections on Sri Lanka’ where he had visited recently

Situated north of the equator and south of India in the Indian Ocean it is smaller than Ireland but with a population of 22 million. Landscapes range from rainforests and plains to highlands and sandy beaches.The country, then known as Ceylon gained independence from Britain in 1948 and became Sri Lanka in 1972.On Boxing Day 2004 the island was hit by a tsunami leaving 40,000 dead.

The years from 1983 to 2009 mark the civil war between the government and the Tamil Tigers who sought to create an independent state in the north- east of the country. An unrelated conflict is currently taking place further south near Kandy. It involves the Buddist Sinhalese majority and the Islamic minority.

For such a small country, Sri Lanka is blessed with 8 Unesco World Heritage Sites, many of them ancient Buddhist ruins. The speaker, in his tour had visited some of these, taken excellent photographs which added to the interest,

Sigiriya Rock Fortress is probably Sri Lanka’s most dramatic sight. The 660 foot high black volcanic rock once carried a palace built AD 477-495. Its remains can be viewed after a climb up 2,500 steps.

Dambulla is a rock cave temple which is filled with magnificent carved images of Buddha

Abhayagiri Monastery a Buddhist temple built 4th century BC is situated in the ancient capital Anuradhapura. Its architecture is incredible, 70 metres high, it used 90 million bricks in its construction.

The Temple of the Tooth in Kandy (itself a world heritage site) was a most sacred place claimed to be a place where one of Buddha’s teeth was housed ‘he who holds the Buddha’s tooth holds the governance of the country’.

Other facets of the country which impressed John was the incredible friendliness of the people, always smiling despite it being a relatively poor country. Compared with parts of India, it was a very clean country with roads continually being swept. All school children wore a white uniform provided free by the government – education was very important which showed in the country’s 92% literacy

Tea was an important export- the tea pickers were always women. The industry was started by a Scotsman James Taylor (1835-1892) aided by a Mr Lipton.

Volley ball is the national sport though cricket is the most popular with pitches in the most unlikely places as well as well-appointed Test grounds.

Club President Martin Davies warmly thanked John for his excellent presentation of what is a fascinating country

 

 

John Watkin Some Memories of TV Production 27 March 2018

Members gave a warm welcome this week to John Watkin who shared some of his memories of working in the world of TV production.

Born in Llanrhystud, he attended Ardwyn Grammar School and Trinity College, Carmarthen, before taking up his first TV post working on ‘Blue Peter’. There he persuaded John Noakes to be filmed on a parachute jump. He particularly enjoyed working with John who proved himself the equal of any task, however dangerous., many of which were reshown following his sad death last year.

He then secured a post to develop tv in Brunei, whose ruler was then the richest person in the world. This gave rise to particular problems for John, given the need to broadcast in Malay and to remain constantly aware of Islamic sensitivities. A version of ‘Mr and Mrs’ was adapted to local needs, especially so as most husbands had more than one wife in that society, and proved especially popular, as did men’s tennis from overseas. Women’s tennis however was frowned upon as their playing kit was deemed too revealing.

Having returned to the UK he became involved in a series of programmes on Women in High Places. He remains very proud of his profile of Indira Gandhi, despite the practical difficulties in securing time from her busy schedule. He found her very charming and solicitous of the TV crew’s comfort. She was focused on the needs of her people, 70% of whom lived in the countryside. Dunlop tyres for every trailer and an electric pump for water in every village seemed very simple to us in the west but would make a huge difference to the quality of life for hundreds of million. John was especially affected when, having just finished the final production of the programme, news came through of Indira Gandhi’s assassination by one of her Sikh bodyguards.

True to the old showbiz adage, John left his audience eager for more, keeping his three year stint in China and other TV experiences for another day.

President Martin thanked John warmly for his engaging talk and looked forward to inviting him back on another occasion for Part 2.

 

 

John Bradshaw Travels in East Africa, 20 March 2018

This week’s speaker was Rtn John Bradshaw, who bravely stepped in at the last moment following the illness of the scheduled speaker.

John’s talk focused on his trip to Ethiopia in 1998 which he arranged following the cancellation of a job there on account of the war being waged at that time between Ethiopia and Eritrea impacting on the area he was due to work in. Bravely, he decided to carry on while avoiding the area disputed by the two countries.

An unexpected consequence of his visit was a two day stopover in Sanaa, capital of Yemen, courtesy of Yemeni Air. Sanaa at that time was a vibrant city, with lively markets, distinctive buildings and vibrant colours everywhere, apart from the omnipresent black burkas worn by all women. It was a poor country then, made even poorer by the current civil war.

A rickety plane ride took him to Addis Ababa, the bustling capital of Ethiopia. John found the city was ill prepared to receive tourists and he survived two attempts of robbery in his short stay there. His visit to the local Rotary Club was singularly unwelcoming. Having been strongly advised to avoid bus travel, John took an internal flight to the area around Lake Tana near the source of the Blue Nile. There he explored, in the company of a local guide, Bahir Dar, Gonder, Lelibela and enjoyed the wonderful rock-hewn churches of the region, some of which dated back to the 12th century. On Sundays, the churches were surrounded by people unable to enter because they were judged unclean by the exacting standards of the Ethiopian Church. The Blue Nile Falls were a particularly memorable sight downstream from Lake Tana, as was the narrow gorge the river had gouged out before it continued on its way to Sudan and Egypt.. He mentioned the current Ethiopian plans to dam the Blue Nile before it reached Sudan, which could threaten supplies of water downstream and greatly increase tension in the region.

He met few other tourists on his travels and had to be careful of his choice of hotels- some of those advertised were little more than shacks in very distressed areas. Notwithstanding the two attempted robberies(!), his overwhelming memory of the trip was the friendliness of the people, despite their great poverty and difficult circumstances.

President Martin thanked John for stepping in at the last minute and telling members of yet another of his adventures in the far-flung corners of the world.

 

 

Howard Jones: Swedish Vietnamese Joint Health Project 13 March 2018

This week’s speaker was Rotarian Howard Jones, recently returned from a visit to a hospital in Vietnam whose creation he had been involved in from 1984 to 1986 as part of a major Swedish aid project.

At that time, Vietnam was one of the poorest countries in the world and was only slowly recovering from the US Vietnam War which itself was the culmination of conflict stretching back to 1945. The hospital was in Uong Bi, then a small town to the east of Hanoi but remote from it because a very poor transport infrastructure. The town has since grown into a major provincial city, with a population approaching 200,000. The hospital itself has become a regional health facility with over 1100 beds serving some 11 million people.

Howard was struck by the major differences in Vietnam since the mid 1980s. Population has grown to 90 million people with 50% under the age of 25. The carefully controlled military state of that time has been replaced by a vibrant open society with capitalism flooding into what is is still nominally a communist country and small local enterprises being set up at every opportunity. Industrialisation has proceeded at great pace with Vietnamese goods exported world wide, tourism has developed enormously and, on the roads, the ubiquitous bicycle of the mid 1980s has been replaced by roaring mopeds and scooters. Most visible of all, however, is the profusion of colour on the streets as people have shed the monotonous clothes he saw on his first visit.

The links between Sweden and Vietnam have remained strong over the past 30 years with continuing Swedish support for medical staff, many of whom take advantage of those links to study at Swedish universities.

The latest visit was part of those continuing links as Howard joined a Swedish team seeking to identify current hospital needs and providing on-site training and staff development in key areas. The team was very impressed by the dedication and skills of local medical staff who were nevertheless held back by a lack of access to up to date equipment. Howard himself was involved in offering courses on technical English to help staff keep updated on latest medical research, normally published in English.

Treatment in the hospital is free to all but patients have to pay for their own medicines and remained reliant on their family and friends for food while in hospital. This creates particular problems as many patients do not keep up their their medicines at home and continue to suffer complications.

Given the lapse of time, all the doctors Howard worked with on his first first visit have by now retired but he was still able to meet up and enjoy the company of many old friends, He noted one long lasting legacy of the Vietnam War: the effects of Agent Orange, extensively used in US bombing in the late 1960s, continue to impact on the local population, creating medical and mental health problems into the fourth generation since the end of the War.

 

 

Dafydd Evans New Member’s Job Talk  27 February 2018

This week’s speaker was Dafydd Evans, who, as a recently joined member, gave his Job Talk by way of introduction to the Club.

Born, brought up and now living in Penllwyn, Capel Bangor, Dafydd is a true local and counts himself fortunate to have been able to spend his working life in the area, something denied to so many young people. After gaining his City and Guilds qualification in Cardiff, he took up his first post as a radio and TV technician in Walker’s in Aberystwyth. This was an age where it was normal to repair electronic equipment rather than bin it and buy new. He remembers very well the video format war between VHS and Betamax and the cost of early VHS machines, £3000 in today’s terms. Excellent quality service was essential in those days to ensuring customer loyalty.

He moved from Walker’s to work as a laboratory technician in the Physics Department at the University in Aberystwyth and from there to the Audio Visual Unit where he worked with Past President Mike Price providing AV teaching support and producing recruitment videos for the University. In the early 1990s he was also involved in the establishment of the University of Wales Video Conferencing system, linking HE institutions across Wales, a significant innovation at the time.

From there he moved to the National Library to work on the creation of the Wales National Screen and Sound Archive as a means of increasing public awareness of and access to NLW’s extensive resources in film and tv. A particular challenge has been the need to migrate material between different formats to maintain its continued accessibility in modern electronic formats as systems become obsolete within comparatively short periods.. At the same time, original film and tv material is safely and securely stored in an NLW vault. In this context he has contributed much to the creation of the Wales Video Gallery and the ITV Wales Collection, the latter dating back to the 1960s, where the deterioration of video tapes has required a major conservation effort.

President Martin thanked Dafydd for his interesting talk, delivered with much warmth and sincerity, and mentinoed a number of specific projects where Dafydd’s skills and contacts have already proved very helpful in promoting awareness of the activities of Rotary.

 

Sue Balsom High Sheriff of Dyfed, 20 February 2018

The speaker at Tuesday’s meeting was the High Sheriff of Dyfed,Ms Sue Balsom,who was dressed in the finery of the office, in a style dating back to the 17th century.She was inducted into the office at a ceremony held in Cardigan Castle in April last year.

She proceeded to give a comprehensive and fascinating insight into the origins and the numerous and varied functions of the office dating back to its birth in the 10th century, under the rule of the Saxons.It is the oldest secular office in the country with the High Sheriff being regarded as the monarch’s judicial representative in the county. The collection of taxes was another of its important powers.

Locally, up until 1974, the counties of Cardigan, Carmarthen and Pembroke each had a High Sheriff but after local government reorganisation and the amalgamation of these to form Dyfed,there is now only one to represent the three former counties.The office, which is unpaid and strictly non-political, is rotated annually with nominees being put forward from each of the modern counties in succession.In practice, three eligible persons are nominated by High Court Judges and members of the Privy Council,with the Monarch signifying her assent to the appointment of the chosen nominee by pricking with a bodkin, next to the name, a vellum parchment which contains the names of all the counties and their nominees.

Traditionally,the High Sheriff was responsible for the maintenance of law and order in the county and up until the abolition of the death penalty in 1965, was required to attend every lawful execution in the county.The major powers of the office have since been delegated to various other institutions and organisations and the role is now largely ceremonial.

Before the advent of modern communication systems the role included the announcement of the death of the reigning monarch and the accession to the throne of the new sovereign.Modern duties include acting as the returning officer for parliamentary elections in county constituencies and attendance at Royal visits to the county. When High Court Judges visit the county, the High Sheriff is expected to ensure their comfort and safety.

During the year of office, the High Sheriff has the opportunity to raise money for local charities. Ms Balsom has opted to support the NSPCC and Aberystwyth Sea Cadets.

Members gave a warm welcome to this week’s speaker, Gwyneth Davies, head of the volunteering scheme at the National Library since 2012. The scheme currently has 98 volunteers, drawn from a wide range of people from around the county, students, retired people and others wishing to acquire valuable skills to enhance their CVs. They freely give their time to assist on a range of projects within NLW, as well as providing a meet and greet service to newcomers to the Library.

The project as a whole has a number of partners in the health, education and local government sectors, giving volunteers the opportunity to gain an insight into different types of material. They can become involved in the electronic transcription of a number of collections currently in the Library with the aim of making them more easily accessible to a wider audience. Examples include the Guy Hughes Photographic Collection and Daybook, ITV Archives and the Geoff Charles Collection of Photographs, all of which contain film, photos and information relevant to both the local area and Wales more widely. Material from these archives are being made available in a variety of formats to assist in reminiscence therapy with organisations assisting with dementia and care of the elderly, for example Living Memory/Atgof Byw and Crossroads Ceredigion.

Gwyneth mentioned one project specifically in which her team is involved and to which she was keen to secure additional support: The Cardiganshire Great War Military Tribunals Record. These archives are unique within Wales as most county records of this nature were destroyed within a few years of the end of the Great War. In only three other counties in the UK are similar archives held.

The current project is intended to transcribe and make available online the 10,000 documents contained in the archive, dealing with appeals against conscription into the armed services after 1916. These were then considered by military tribunals at local, county and national levels. As such they contain a valuable source of material relevant to social historians and descendants of those involved.

Gwyneth strongly suspects that the archive survived through the efforts of individuals responsible for setting up what was known as the ‘Comforts Fund’. This sent supplies of clothing, food, tobacco otherwise unavailable and local news to soldiers from the Aberystwyth area serving in the Great War. 20 to 50 parcels were sent out each week in the latter years of the War and funds were so great that it was able to give support to local men on their return from fighting. The name of Sergeant Major Fear keeps cropping up as a major organiser of this fund and it seems likely that much credit for the survival of the archive is due to him.

President Martin thanked Gwyneth for her excellent presentation and wished her every success with current and future projects.

 

Rotarian John Owen, District Compliance and Safeguarding Officer 30 January 2018

A warm welcome was exte

Gwyneth Davies, Volunteer Co-Ordinator, NLW 13 February 2018

Members gave a warm welcome to this week’s speaker, Gwyneth Davies, head of the volunteering scheme at the National Library since 2012. The scheme currently has 98 volunteers, drawn from a wide range of people from around the county, students, retired people and others wishing to acquire valuable skills to enhance their CVs. They freely give their time to assist on a range of projects within NLW, as well as providing a meet and greet service to newcomers to the Library.

Thr project as a whole has a number of partners in the health, education and local government sectors, giving volunteers the opportunity to gain an insight into different types of material. They can become involved in the electronic transcription of a number of collections currently in the Library with the aim of making them more easily accessible to a wider audience. Examples include the Guy Hughes Photographic Collection and Daybook, ITV Archives and the Geoff Charles Collection of Photographs, all of which contain film, photos and information relevant to both the local area and Wales more widely. Material from these archives are being made available in a variety of formats to assist in reminiscence therapy with organisations assisting with dementia and care of the elderly, for example Living Memory/Atgof Byw and Crossroads Ceredigion.

Gwyneth mentioned one project specifically in which her team is involved and to which she was keen to secure additional support: The Cardiganshire Great War Military Tribunals Record. These archives are unique within Wales as most county records of this nature were destroyed within a few years of the end of the Great War. In only three other counties in the UK are similar archives held.

The current project is intended to transcribe and make available online the 10,000 documents contained in the archive, dealing with appeals against conscription into the armed services after 1916. These were then considered by military tribunals at local, county and national levels. As such they contain a valuable source of material relevant to social historians and descendants of those involved.

Gwyneth strongly suspects that the archive survived through the efforts of individuals responsible for setting up what was known as the ‘Comforts Fund’. This sent supplies of clothing, food, tobacco otherwise unavailable and local news to soldiers from the Aberystwyth area serving in the Great War. 20 to 50 parcels were sent out each week in the latter years of the War and funds were so great that it was able to give support to local men on their return from fighting. The name of Sergeant Major Fear keeps cropping up as a major organiser of this fund and it seems likely that much credit for the survival of the archive is due to him.

President Martin thanked Gwyneth for her excellent presentation and wished her every success with current and future projects.

nded this week to Rotarian John Owen and his wife, Pauline. John, who is currently President of the Cardiff Bay Rotary Club, had been invited in his capacity as District Compliance and Safeguarding Officer to talk to members about important issues within his sphere of responsibility.

In all its voluntary activities Rotary has a responsibility to safeguard both its members and the public in accordance with the law of the land. Insurance costs for RIBI are significant (£250,000 per year) and are met out of members’ contributions. It is essential to keep these costs at a minimum by a strategic and considered approach to all organised activities to minimise the danger of unplanned incidents. Health and Safety issues are paramount as things can go wrong despite the best intentions of all concerned.

Rotary’s Equality and Diversity policy encourages the widest possible membership, regardless of gender, sexuality, race or disability. The Data Protection Act requires all clubs to keep their personal data within strictly controlled limits.

Members of Rotary undertake many voluntary activities in support of children and vulnerable people. John explained the requirements of registering with DBS when members engage in contact on a regular basis on a regular, unsupervised basis. Although this is not normally a feature of Rotary activity, members may well find themselves being asked by local authorities and care providers to undergo DBS checks. Some members may encounter difficulties transferring DBS clearance between providers and making sure they are kept up to date but full advice is given on the Rotary website.

President Martin Davies thanked John for his lively presentation and on behalf of members asked that the Club’s greetings and best wishes be passed on John and Pauline’s respective clubs in Cardiff.

 

 

Clive Parker: Job Talk 16 January 2018

This week’s speaker was Clive Parker who, as a recent member of the Club, gave his job talk by way of introduction to fellow Rotarians.

A native of Hereford, Clive took up an apprenticeship with PO Telephones in 1969 and spent his first 10 years as a technician in Hereford, Shrewsbury and Telford, taking various City and Guilds

qualifications and first aid training courses on a day release basis. He transferred to Wales in 1979, first to Machynlleth and shortly after to Aberystwyth.

Despite its reputation as being behind the times, Aberystwyth at that time was in the forefront of telephone innovation and Clive soon became involved in early field trials of optical fibre and radio links between towns, villages and hamlets in Mid Wales. One of his early projects was developing remote patient telephone monitoring systems for the NHS.

Privatisation in 1984 led to the creation of BT and opened the way for more technological innovations while at the same time increasing the role of administrators and accountants. The spread of broadband, mobile phones, microwave transmitters and digital exchanges brought major changes to UK telecommunications generally, requiring frequent skills updates and the adoption of new working practices. At the same time Clive took the opportunity to become involved in specific projects (for example setting up more than 100 land lines and mobile communication systems for the 1992 Eisteddfod site in Aberystwyth) while continuing to develop his health and safety roles.

With the creation of Open Reach in 2005, Clive took on the role of Communications Design Engineer and became responsible for network integrity in West Wales.

Clive continued to study in his own time and gained a BA in Youth and Childhood Studies in 2013 before finally retiring from Open Reach in 2014. He still offers training courses in Coleg Ceredigion, where his contribution is widely appreciated.

Clive was warmly thanked for his presentation by Vice President Michael Deaville.

 

 

Professor Elizabeth Treasure, Vice Chancellor of Aberystwyth University 9 January 2018

At its first meeting of the New Year, the Club extended a warm welcome to Professor Elizabeth Treasure, who had been appointed Vice Chancellor of Aberystwyth University last April.

Professor Treasure shared with members and their guests her own background before moving on to talk about her new role at the University.

Born in Glasgow, she qualified with a BDS and PhD in Dentistry at Birmingham University before embarking on a career in dentistry and management. She took up a post at the University of Otago in New Zealand before returning to the UK in 1995 as Senior Lecturer and what was then the Welsh College of Medicine before its merger with Cardiff University. She undertook various academic roles there before being appointed Deputy Vice Chancellor. She is a keen skier, walker and cook and enjoys socialising with friends and family.

As to her role in Aberystwyth University, she focused on the challenges faced by the sector as a whole and those particular to here. The removal of the cap on student numbers in England has led to major expansion in some universities (20% in Cardiff, for example), which, coupled with the introduction of full cost fees of £9000, has caused significant problems for those which had failed to maintain their numbers. Aberystwyth was in this latter group as the undergraduate intake has fallen from a historic high in 2010 to around 2000 or so in recent years. This has resulted in a loss of more than £20 million fee income each year, necessitating a review of current staffing levels and activities.

There are opportunities for Aberystwyth in all this. Where numbers have increased there is evidence in some universities of a decline in standards, outcomes and the student experience. The University has engaged marketing experts to advise on how it can take advantage of these trends and reposition itself, building upon its improved league table ratings, bringing it back to its pre-2010 position, and its more recent award of Times University of the Year in Teaching Quality. This will focus on the unique features of the University, its surrounding environment and the high quality student support which has continued to improve, despite recent challenges. It will also work to achieve as major increase in overseas student numbers, where the University has been underperforming in recent years.

Professor Treasure was delighted to have won £5 million of Welsh Government funding towards the redevelopment of Pantycelyn, due to re-open in 2019, and is working with internal and external partners and UMCA, the Welsh Students’ Union, to ensure that we have a vibrant Welsh student community by reversing the decline in numbers from Wales by then.

Of the two other major projects in hand, Old College is due to revamped, with significant support from the Heritage Lottery Fund, bringing potential financial and cultural benefits for the town and University alike. She mentioned that the Gogerddan Campus redevelopment may be delayed slightly as costings are carefully reviewed.

Other issues she has been dealing with include the fall out of the Mauritius Campus enterprise, where further recruitment will be stopped. The University continues to focus on research opportunities across the University to maximise impact and funding wherever feasible.

Professor Treasure is looking forward to the 150th anniversary of the University on 2022 and will work with staff, students and the community to ensure its continued success.

In response, Past President Dr John Harries, former Pro Vice Chancellor of the University, thanked Professor Treasure most warmly on behalf and members and their guests, for such a wide ranging and enjoyable presentation and wished her and the University every success, particularly given its importance to the town and the keen interest with which its future is followed by local people.

 

 

Cynan Jones 12 December 2017

Members learned with much sadness of the death of Gwyn Lewis, Past President of the Club and Honorary Member since 2009. Rtn Huw Spencer Lloyd gave a short address on Gwyn’s enthusiastic contribution to the work of the Club and his active engagement with the local community as JP. Parish and county councillor and respected sheep farmer, always keen to keep up with scientific advances to improve the health and hence quality of his animals. Members offered sincere condolences to Gwyn’s widow, Beatrice, and his daughter and grandchildren of whom he was so proud.

The guest speaker this week was renowned local writer,Cynan Jones, winner of the Welsh Book of the Year in 2015 and the BBC Short Story Prize in 2016. Cynan learned the hard technical skills of successful writing as a freelance copywriter in Glasgow where he had to turn his hand to a wide range of material for businesses and local agencies. His first book, ‘The Long Dry’ was published in 2006 after he convinced publishers that his concise almost poetic style and innovative use of language, rich in images derived from the people and landscape of Ceredigion, deserved a wider audience. Since then he has written four further novels and had his work published in over 20 countries and a range of foreign languages. The last two, ‘The Dig’ and ‘Cove’ have been published by Granta.

Cynan shared with members insights into his creative process, involving long periods of mental reworking before retiring to his shed for intensive periods of writing. He has had inevitable encounters with the fickle world of publishing (‘this work is too long/ short’) but is very pleased that his work has been internally acknowledged. He has contributed to the script of the BBC series ‘Hinterland’, where he experienced first hand the very different demands and financial rewards of writing for television. He is currently the holder of an RLF Fellowship in Aberystwyth University.

Rtn Hywel Wyn Jones offered sincere appreciation of the talk on behalf of Club members and wished Cynan long and continued success in his writing.

 

 

 

Stephen Fearn: Aberystwyth Robotics Club 21 November 2017

Members gave a warm welcome to Steve Fearn, whose topic this week was the Aberystwyth Robotics Club, organised in the Physics Department of Aberystwyth University. The Club has been running for more than four years now and is aimed at youngsters aged 12 and above. Currently some 30 children attend after school on Wednesdays, using the same lab facilities as undergraduate students.

The Club enables youngsters to experience different types of robot technology and its uses in the real world, multiple means of motion on land and sea, and the various forms of control, including autonomous, semi-autonomous and telepresence. They help design, create and programme machines which can interact with and learn from their environment. The Club sets out to engage youngsters in learning, encourage their creativity and build trust between leaders and participants.

University undergraduates act as student ambassadors and contribute enormously to the Club’s success and themselves gain skills which can help in future employment.

Steve brought along a part of a steel claw which the Club developed for its entry into the BBC’s ‘Robot Wars’ programme, which gave members a better idea of the size and strength of machine needed to compete successfully. He also gave a practical demonstration of robots operating in a confined place and interacting with each other according to their programming.

The Club won a prestigious national STEM award in 2016 and puts on a number of public shows each year, including an annual event on the Aber Promenade which always generates much interest.

It benefits enormously from the University’s involvement in the ExoMars 2020 project, major features of which have been designed and built here. Steve showed a number of parts of the Mars Rover which had been developed to enhance the quality of pictures to taken on the next expedition, calibrate colours to assist in the identification of samples and help in navigation of the surface of the planet.

 

Young Musicians Competition 14 November 2017

Club members and their guests recently enjoyed a wonderful evening’s musical entertainment when the first round of the Rotary Young Musicians Competition was held in the Marine Hotel. The performances were a credit to the talents of the young performers and all who support them.

After much careful deliberation by the adjudicators, Eirwen Hughes and Louise Amery, it was agreed that the following should proceed into the next round, to be held in Ysgol Penglais in January: Guto Ifan Lewis (vocalist), Erin Hassan (French horn).

Aberystwyth Rotary Club gratefully acknowledges the support of Cerdd Ystwyth in Aberystwyth in providing the prizes awarded on the night.

 

 

Matthew Newbold: Advancing Aberystwyth ar y blaen 31 October 2017

Members gave a warm welcome to Matthew Newbold who provided an overview of Advance Aberystwyth ar y Blaen, the company which has been set up to manage the second phase of the BID project over the years to March 2021.
The company is managed by a Board of Directors drawn from the local business community, with funding derived from a levy equivalent to 1% of business rates. This funding is expected to produce some £900,000 over the four years of the project to be spent on initiatives in the town. The four broad areas covered are improving access to facilities, promoting and marketing the town, developing stronger business opportunities and strengthening links between public and private bodies within the town.
A number of themed routes have already been identified: marketing and connectivity, the night time economy, digital tourism and identifying areas where participating businesses may reduce their expenditure (for example in energy and telecommunication costs). In this latter case, potential savings have more than covered the cost of the business levy.
Advance Aberystwyth ar y Blaen is working on a range of projects with local partners with the aim of adding value and increasing the impact of current activities. It is not intended to replace current spending by, for example, the town or county council. Additional money has been allocated to improving the town’s Christmas Lighting and extending the number of streets covered as well as promoting free parking in the run up to Christmas. The Board is seeking to extend the town’s visitor attractions and improve signage where it is perceived to be in need of upgrade.
There was a lively interchange of ideas and views after the presentation, reflecting the general desire to increase the attractiveness of the town and generate additional footfall for businesses.
Past President Richard Griffiths, on behalf of members, thanked Matthew for his informative talk and expressed the hope that the project would achieve positive and lasting outcomes for the town.

 

 

Emily Thomas RYLA Scholar 24 October 2017

The speaker at this week’s meeting was Emily Thomas, an Ysgol Penglais pupil from Bontgoch, who had been sponsored by the Club to attend a Rotary Youth Leadership Award (RYLA) programme in the Brecon Beacons last July.

Emily gave an excellent presentation on the activities she had taken part in and the key inter-personal skills she had developed on the RYLA course. Based on outdoor activities, youngsters were divided into teams, one of which took take the lead in organising the day’s events. Emily’s team was responsible for the gorge walking activity on the first full day of the course, the challenges of which she thoroughly enjoyed. Successive days were then spent caving, an evening climb up Pen y Fan and canoeing on the Brecon Canal. The final exercise was to design and build a boat from the minimal materials provided and row it across a river. The exercises were designed to encourage participants out of their comfort and to test themselves in a new environment. Those who pushed themselves the hardest undoubtedly gained the most.

Emily came away from the course with many new friends, increased self confidence and positive team building skills. She had to conquer her own fear of confined spaces in the caving experience, take on a leadership role when others were reluctant to do so and also become more aware of her own mental and physical limitations. The RYLA course is potentially a life changing challenge and offers participants memories and friendships which will last a lifetime.

 

 

 

 

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